Star Wars: Empire at War -- Gold Pack Review
By Brian Egan |
Empire at War combines positive aspects from earlier Star Wars titles, borrowing elements from other strategy games, and incorporating some newly created features for better or worse. Empire at War takes place on a star system map with real-time events. The map's size ranges from 8 to 43 planets, depending on the difficulty, as players decide which units to create and what worlds to conquer or defend. Having both space and land battles is an ambitious design element, but there are some drawbacks to both phases.
In land battles, the game restricts how many units you can use at any one time. This keeps battles to a fairly small size -- not what you would expect from a movie series with "wars" in the title. Land maps are also extremely small, which diminishes the strategic options, as there is typically only one direction to travel. The secret to success is making sure you have enough units in space that can be called upon for reinforcements.
Space combat offers a few more options. Space stations can be built to help defend a planet and increase the total population cap. Space battles are similar to land battles in that you are limited to the number of onscreen units at any given time. There isn't much maneuvering in space, either; nearly every battle begins with both sides in close proximity to each other.
Empire at War includes most of the major vehicles from the films along with some original designs. Hero units are the most fun to control in land battles. Darth Vader can crush soldiers and tanks with the Dark Side of the Force, while Chewbacca can commandeer vehicles. The hero units aren't as entertaining in space since they just sit inside cockpits.
With the film's characters, ships, and vehicles as playable units, Empire at War makes you feel part of the Star Wars universe. Although sometimes more challenging than it should be, controlling all of the aspects on the galactic map is enjoyable. Unfortunately, the battles just aren't very interesting to play. While the game is a notch above previous Star Wars strategy titles in most areas, it still falls short of other entries in the genre. Take away the Star Wars license and you take away the incentive to keep playing.